It’s April, and that means everyone is talking about Brexit!
Crunch time has well and truly arrived. At the time of writing, no deal has yet been passed and the ‘no-deal’ date has been shifted from March 29 to April 12.
Lots of things will happen when the UK leaves the EU. You may be happy about that or not, but whatever your opinion, the fact is that a lot of things are going to change once the UK is out.
One of the things that may affect you is your website’s domain name.
What’s Going On with .EU Domains?
The problem concerns .eu domains. If your website is currently on a .eu domain, once the UK leaves Europe, you will not be able to keep your domain name unless you have registered it under a European address.
If that means the UK leaves this month with no deal, you may have to act fast in order to keep your domain (though this will not always be possible depending on your situation). Otherwise, you will have until the end of the transition period to sort it out.
Why is this happening?
Because EURid, the registry for EU domains, has made it clear that people in the UK will no longer be in the EU following Brexit. And only people in the EU can get .eu domains.
So what do you have to know? Read on to find out.
Will You Lose Your Domain?
It depends. The one thing you will need in order to keep your .eu domain is a physical address in the EU. If you do not have one of these, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep hold of your domain.
So what’s going to happen?
1. No Deal Scenario
In the situation of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, the UK would crash out of the EU. The original date for this was set to be March 29, but it has since been extended to April 12. This is the first possible scenario.
If you have a .eu domain registered to a UK (or Gibraltar) address, you should receive an email about a week before the no-deal deadline informing you that you are no longer compliant.
You will then be given two months to become compliant. If, after the two-month period, you have not updated your address, your domain will cease to function. But you can still reactivate it if you update your address.
On May 30, 2020, if your domain is still registered to a UK address, it will be revoked and placed back on the market.
2. Transition Period Scenario
The alternative is where the UK leaves with a deal and there is a transition period. This period is currently set to end on the last day of 2020.
In this case, you will receive the email on December 23, 2020. You will have until March 2021 to update your address before it is withdrawn, and on January 1, 2022, it will be revoked.
What You Need to Do
So what can you do? This is where it can get a bit tricky.
If you are fortunate enough to have your domain registered under a European address, you won’t have to do a thing. You can keep your domain registered and it will remain working.
If you have registered your domain under a UK address, you will need to change it. Do you already have a European address? This may be the case for some larger companies with subsidiaries.
If so, you will need to change it to your European address. Once you have done this, the problem is solved. Just make sure you do it as soon as possible to avoid any possible disruption.
The real problem is if you do not have a European address that you can use. In this case, you will lose your domain.
Your primary course of action in this situation should be to transfer your domain as early as possible to a .co.uk or a .com domain. If you don’t do this in time, you could face problems if your website stops working, which will cause disruption to your business.
Alternatively, you may prefer to transfer your domain to someone else, or another business, with a European address. This would solve the problem, even though it may not be the ideal situation.
No Domains for EU Citizens
According to The Register, the EU updated the rules in January 2019 by making it clear that even EU citizens with a UK address would not be able to get a domain. Only people with a physical European address can get a .eu domain. The appeals process has also been taken away, leaving very little room to do anything about it.
Is This Fair?
There has been a lot of anger about this decision, especially the fact that the domains will be placed back on the market once they have been revoked.
For many, this is not a good policy – and there are even concerns about its legality.
It may all feel completely unnecessary (especially because you can register other types of domains without having a physical address in the country), but that’s the deal.
How Many Domains Will Be Affected?
According to EURid and reported in the link above, 45,584 individuals with .eu domains will be affected by this because they are registered in the UK. A further 187,080 domains are assigned to companies.
Keep an Eye Out for the Latest News
As with everything to do with Brexit at the moment, the situation is changing all the time. If you have a .eu domain, make sure you keep up with the latest information and check with your domain registrar.
Find out if you can switch your domain, and be prepared in advance in order to avoid potentially significant disruption.
Further reading: https://eurid.eu/en/register-a-eu-domain/brexit-notice/